Trust and understanding. Allow your child to take flight.
Working with kids over the past twenty years, I've noticed a common phrase that parents and families use to explain why they choose me to work with their children. They tell me their kids tell them, "She gets me!"
With these three words a child communicates that they sense trust, authenticity, presence, and understanding. And it wasn't until recently that I realized what this awareness truly means to a child.
Just recently, a mom came back into my office to tell me that after she and her teenage son left my evaluation he commented that he felt like he could fly! He'd told her, “Mom, that lady gets me.” With tears in her eyes, she simply added, “Thank you.”
Being a parent myself, I know how terrifying it is to put your child’s future in the hands of a total stranger. It's not easy to trust someone that you barely know. It is even harder to do that today, living in a world of social media where anyone can be whatever they've chosen to put in their profile. Credentials, degrees, specialties, can all be made up.
However, one thing remains true: you can’t fool a kid. They're similar to animals in that they use a sixth sense to sniff out the fakes and attack those that they fear. It's unfortunate that we adults don’t listen more to our children's intuitions.
There truly is not a trophy big enough nor a medal shiny enough that could replace the value of the message that mom brought me. Not because I want an award for what I do, but because those words validate that I have achieved what I set out to do in the time I spent with a struggling student.
As professionals, we are called to be present, to analyze, deduce, and find ways to help students. As adults, the only way we can begin to tear down the walls of shame that children have built around themselves is by helping them to put their trust in a mentor, a teacher, an interventionist who knows how to help them. Authenticity is how we do that and kids have the best insight for knowing who is real and who is just collecting a pay check.
Struggling students and families are full of fears: fear of failure, fear of blame, fear of ridicule and the sting of shame. These fears, in turn, allow anxiety to take root in children who struggle. However, anxiety weakens when they finally find a person who empathizes and who can educate and empower them with the tools they need to conquer their fears. Learning how to overcome their weakness, they have the confidence to stretch out their wings and fly!